This refers to the editorial “India’s export problem” (September 16). Compliments for beautifully analysing multiple problems of Indian exports and pointing out, perhaps, the single largest handicap — the cost of logistics — that makes our exports uncompetitive. Logistics costs as a percentage of the total price of exports even in an advanced and high-wage country like Germany are significantly lower than those in India. Our turnaround time for ships and trucks at our ports is several times higher than the global standards — half a day and 30 minutes respectively as cited by you. Obviously, the sloth and inefficiency in this crucial area add to the costs incurred by exporters.
Having said that, we must laud that Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has openly acknowledged that exports are vitally important to meet our economic growth targets and we need “19-20 per cent growth in outbound trade” to achieve those targets. This is a great start; admission of the crucial role of exports should itself spur all concerned to pull up their socks. Recent pronouncements of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — remission of duties or taxes on exported products, automated refund of input tax credit and the relaxation by the Reserve Bank of India — are also positive steps. Let’s not scoff at these.
We do need to address the structural problems of red tape and credit availability but let’s acknowledge the fact that what the government has already initiated will certainly help in mitigating the problems faced by exporters. Perhaps our exporters also need to stop being “cry babies” and try to stand on their own feet and run faster. As you pointed out, the ongoing US-China trade war offers a huge opportunity for Indian exporters.
Krishan Kalra, Gurugram
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